The U.S. Senate passed legislation Thursday that will provide relief to Floridians faced with unaffordable rate hikes in flood insurance premiums. The bipartisan bill is expected tbe signed by President Barack Obama.
The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act, which already passed the House with a vote of 306-91, also provides long-term certainty to the real estate market and relief to homeowners who bought their homes after the current flood insurance law took effect in 2012.
Congressman Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, calledthe bill "a victory for thousands of struggling homeowners in Sarasota and Manatee counties" in a news release.
The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act is supported by a coalition of more than 200 national and local organizations including the Manatee and Sarasota Association of Realtors, the National Association of Realtors, American Bankers Association and the National Association of Home Builders.
Specifically, the House flood insurance reform bill would:
• Bring certainty to the real estate market by allowing homeowners to pass on government-subsidized premiums to people trying to buy their homes instead of requiring purchasers to immediately pay full-risk rates.
• Protect primary homeowners (in pre-FIRM structures) from catastrophic rate hikes by limiting rate increases to no more than 15 percent a year. By comparison, the Senate bill allows rate increases up to 20 percent a year.
• Bring fairness to primary homeowners who built their homes to code by giving them the option to keep the policy assigned to them at the time of construction, regardless of new elevation determinations following remapping.
• Provide relief to those who have bought homes since the Biggert Waters Act was enacted in July of 2012 by retroactively providing a refund or credit from their insurer.
Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected].